Here’s a faith-based film that has the hint of a “Hail Mary” pass about it. A cast of mostly has-beens or never-weres takes its shot at reinventing itself in a feebly written fable aimed down at an audience they don’t figure will see through them.
Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins never developed acting talent beyond the scowl he wore to convince hip hop fans how hard he was. He plays Miles Montego, a rich “retired” drug dealer turned concert promoter who falls hard “a church girl” (e-time “Cheetah Girl” Adrienne Bailon).
She’s the sort of girl that church-going mom would have approved of. Yeah, you know Mom’s going to get sick.
But even as Miles is throwing his A-game at Vanessa, the church girl — rubbing elbows with the rich, athletic and famous, like wide receiver Jerry Rice, taking her on dates by private jet — his “boys” are still getting into trouble.
And that means the Feds (Stephen Baldwin and Michael Madsen) are all up in his business.
“This Agent McDaniels dude? He got it real bad for you, man.”
The setting gives “I’m in Love with a Church Girl” more edge than your typical faith-based film. Not much, but a little.
“You wanna send me to Hell? BOOK the flight!”
It’s a film of limp police procedures — stake outs that aren’t really clandestine, interrogations by underlings because maybe, the lead actors weren’t all available for the full day.
Miles bonds a bit with his new pal, the mega-church preacher, who charms him with “We spend half our days waiting for the Lord, the other half waiting on our wives.”
It’s a film of limp police procedures — stake outs that aren’t really clandestine, generic prison scenes, interrogations by underlines that suggest the leading players weren’t available on set for the entire day.
The supporting cast is packed with players from mob and cop movies going way back — Vincent Pastore, Martin Kove.
None of which adds up to much since Ja Rule never for a second convinces us of his conversion, his sudden life-changing devotion to one woman when “women” were more his speed before. He may claim he’s “turned in my playa card.” We don’t believe it, not for a second.
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, a scene of violence, some suggestive content and brief language
Cast: Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins, Adrienne Bailon, Stephen Baldwin, Michael Madsen.
Credits: Directed by Steven Race, written by Galley Molina. A Reverence Gospel Media release.
Running time: 1:58